Teaching creativity and innovation for Biomedical research

Jun 10, 2013

A two-day workshop hosted by the University at Buffalo kicks off today called Conversations in the Disciplines. As WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, the workshops are designed to inspire creativity and innovation in the Biomedical Sciences, an important component in gaining grant dollars for research.

Dr. Leonard Epstein, SUNY Distinguished Professor (left) and Dr. Steven Fliesler, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair
Credit Photo from UB Website

"One of the new criteria for evaluating grants is innovations.  Scientists, of course, always think they are creative and innovative, but that is not part of most peoples training," said Len Epstein, SUNY Distinguished professor of Pediatrics at UB

Epstein said when he attended graduate school, there was no training in innovation. Now with concerns over a scarcity of grant funding for biomedical research, he says it's time for scientists and those in training to be in the field to "think out of the box". 

That's why UB decided to host two days of workshops. One of the talks is going to be on mind-wandering.

"You know you have to give knowledge and information from a lot of different sources together and I always think of them banging around in your brain and all of a sudden something will pop," said Epstein. 

The National Institutes of Health requires innovation in its grant criteria, making it challenging to access very limited funding.

"Now we are talking about, for most of the NIH Institutes, pay lines that are less that ten percent. Some I hear as low as five percent. So that means that the overwhelming majority of grants are not being funded. You need a grant that really stands out," said Epstein. 

In promoting the workshops on Creativity and Innovation -- UB asks could you be the next Galileo, Einstein or Newton and will the next big breakthrough in science be yours?